Kevin Pietersen: England return untenable - Adam Hollioake

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen is England's leading all-time run scorer in all forms of the game

England's one-day side are in "defensive mode" but Kevin Pietersen's return would be "untenable", says former captain Adam Hollioake.

England are struggling to qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals after losing three of their four group games.

Pietersen said he would "work" on a return after incoming England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves refused to rule out a recall.

"It would be too distracting to have him back in the side," said Hollioake.

ECB 'dangling a carrot' to Pietersen - Vaughan

Pietersen, who played 104 Tests and 136 one-day internationals, was sacked by England in February 2014.

The batsman has not represented England since the 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia, which finished the previous month.

He released an autobiography in October in which heavily criticised key ECB figures and England players.

ECB managing director Paul Downton said in December "more bridges have been burnt", and national selector James Whitaker said there was "no way" Pietersen would return to the side.

However, on Sunday, Graves, who takes over as ECB chairman in May, refused to dismiss the idea of a Pietersen recall.

Hollioake, who captained England in 14 of his 35 one-day internationals, told BBC World Service's Stumped programme: "When he got jettisoned, I thought it was the wrong decision. The whole thing was handled appallingly.

"But what he did with his book and his behaviour since then is everything you wouldn't want someone to do if they were trying to regain their place in the side."

Talk of Pietersen return 'not ideal' - Broad

Pietersen, 34, captained England in three Tests but quit in 2009 at the same time as coach Peter Moores was sacked.

Moores was reappointed in 2014 after Pietersen was told he would never play for England again.

Hollioake added: "Everything is forgivable but, with Peter Moores as coach, I don't know whether it's tenable."

Michael Vaughan, who captained Pietersen during his time in charge of England, has challenged him to "prove" he wants to play for his country again.

But former team-mate Matthew Hoggard said Pietersen is "too far removed" from the team to make an international return.

Defeats by Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka have left England second bottom of World Cup Pool A.

England players look scared - Graves

They must win their remaining two group games, against Bangladesh on 9 March and Afghanistan on 13 March, to qualify for the quarter-finals.

England pace bowler Stuart Broad this week denied claims by Vaughan that England are "playing with fear".

Hollioake, now a professional cage fighter, said: "They don't seem to be able to play aggressively and throw a few punches.

"They seem to be stuck in defensive mode or trying to play safe. That's never going to succeed in a World Cup.

"They're all highly skilled players. But it looks like everyone is looking over their shoulder, worried if they're going to get dropped."